'Urgency' over disarmament in Sudan says Archbishop on Day of Action

By staff writers
June 18, 2009

A day of action including a march for Sudan has taken place with backing from the Archbishop of Canterbury who highlighted the 'urgency' over disarmament and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Campaigners say that without international diplomatic intervention, the country could deteriorate further into anarchy and genocide, creating an extremely grave humanitarian crisis.

Today’s day of action saw participants carry buckets of water, drawing attention to the great need for water in Sudan - essential for peace and stability as well as for life, health and education.

A march took place from the London Eye to Parliament Square where the crowds were addressed by members of the All Party Group on Sudan and by representatives of the Foreign Office.

Campaigners are urging the British government to keep Sudan a priority for the securing of peace, the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid and the prevention of further genocide in the war ravaged country.

Baroness Cox, who has camapigned for Sudan and who organised the march, said: “The British people need to know what is happening in Sudan and the government needs to act before we witness a humanitarian crisis of apocalyptic proportions. This march will give the Sudanese people hope knowing that the British people have not forgotten them.”

John Barrett, a Liberal Democrat MP and an active member of the All Party Group on Sudan, said: "The fragile peace in Southern Sudan must not allow policy makers to ignore or forget the humanitarian challenges facing ordinary Sudanese families. Over half of the population have no access to clean drinking water while only a fraction has access to clean sanitation facilities."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, also issued a statement in support of the Day.

“With only 18 months left before the scheduled referendum on the future of Southern Sudan, it is essential that all parties are reminded of the obligations contained in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in January 2005” he said.

“The CPA brought to an end 21 years of bitter civil war in Southern Sudan in which over 2 million people died. I saw the first benefits of peace myself when I visited Sudan in February 2006, just one year after the signing of the agreement. The CPA brought new hope to Southern Sudan after long and destructive conflict. Families could be reunited after long years of separation. New development opportunities opened up such as the church’s widespread programmes of teacher training and classroom building. For the first time, Southern Sudan had the opportunity to establish its own government as an autonomous region within the country.

“However, delays in implementing the CPA and unfulfilled commitments have threatened the sustainability of this peace. There is now an urgency for both parties to the agreement and the international community which helped to broker and support it to demonstrate their renewed commitment to implement the agreement fully. This includes proceeding with disarmament and addressing the widespread problems of insecurity; establishing a workable infrastructure of roads and energy supplies in the region; settling the overdue issues of border demarcation; making timely progress towards free and fair elections; and ensuring the process is on track towards the referendum in which the people of Southern Sudan exercise their right of self-determination in February 2011.

“It is understandable and right that the continuing horrors of Darfur attract international attention. But we need to recognize that unless the commitments around the CPA are honoured there is no chance of settling the conflict in Darfur.

“I therefore urge a renewal of commitment and a readiness to work for measurable results as soon as possible. Meanwhile I hope there will continue to be the most widespread support and prayer for sustainable peace to be achieved throughout Sudan.”

The Sudan Action Group consists of British parliamentarians, NGOs and members of the Sudanese diaspora.

The group was established to raise awareness of the desperate humanitarian crisis which exits in Sudan and to encourage action by British and Western governments to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and to ensure peace, security and prosperity for Sudan’s future.

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